Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Michael Castro

Second Advisor

Tom Dehner

Third Advisor

Ben Kuehnle


This study will focus on analyzing the marketing capabilities of the America's Center and the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission (CVC) in the conventions and exhibitions industry, with the aim of preparing a marketing plan to be implemented by Kenyatta International Conference Center (KICC) in Kenya based on the success of St. Louis CVC. The information gathered from researching published data and personal interviews will be used to develop strategies and recommendations.

Kenyatta International Conference Center was not purposely built to host events of large magnitude as exhibitions and conventions. The center was built with public funds by the government as the headquarters of the ruling political party in Kenya. Al that time, Kenya was a One-Party state and there was no clear distinction between the government and the party. However, in 1973, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided to meet in Kenya, and at that time, the center had just been opened and it was the natural venue for the IMF meeting. This was the turning point for the center. It was immediately converted ii1to an international meeting venue and has been ever since.

KICC has had a turbulent existence since 1989 when its management was transferred from the Department of Tourism to Arid and Semi-Arid Areas. The new management, having had no prior experience in convention business opened up the center to the general public for events like par1ies, weeding receptions, church services and festivals. The facility was in tum vandalized by the new clientele. Marketing was put on bold and the center started deteriorating. At the same time, tourism in Kenya was slipping, mainly due to competition from South Africa and Zimbabwe.

KJCC management bas changed hands four times since that time and is now managed by the ruling party. No major international conferences are held at the center anymore. The roof of the Amphitheater is leaking and the meeting rooms are not user-friendly. There are only two working elevators in the entire complex, which is 32 stories high. Plenary Hall, which seats up to 5,000 people, is not partitionable and there is not enough room for breakout sessions. Some of the rooms have out dated plastic chairs, which are uncomfortable.

The center management is not qualified to run such a facility. The present Director was appointed by the party as a token of appreciation to his tribe for Voting for the party. He spends his time talking to his tribesmen on the phone or entertaining them in his office.

The purpose of this study is to recommend a plan of action that will rejuvenate KJCC in the conventions business. Although the plan will be based on the success of the America's Center, there are also some self-acknowledged deficiencies at both America's Center and the St. Louis CVC that KICC can improve upon.

Specific needs have been identified by conducting various analyses throughout this project. These needs include the establishment a Kenya Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) that can market and sell KICC as convention venue and Kenya as a tourist destination. KICC needs to be expanded and remodeled to make it more appealing and user-friendly. However, no matter how good a product is, marketing is the key to success in a highly competitive environment like the hospitality industry.

Political limitations, which perpetrate nepotism and favoritism, are a major negative in the economic development of Kenya. The system must have the will to overhaul the entire thinking of Kenyans where loyalty is valued and preferred to qualification. In order for the proposed Plan of action to succeed, KJCC must be supported and left to function without government interference. The government must also appreciate the importance of KlCC as a foreign exchange earner and support the efforts of the proposed CVB.

Included in

Marketing Commons